- Baltimore city schools, which say they can’t afford to heat buildings adequately in winter, have 44 employees who earn more than Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan [Chris Papst, WBFF] “School bus driver in fatal 2016 crash was involved in at least a dozen collisions or medical emergencies in the five years prior.” [Scott Dance, Baltimore Sun]
- Good question: “Why did Republicans Oppose Free Market Alcohol Reforms?” [Brian Griffiths, Red Maryland]
- Metro’s misery: “ATU Local 689 has fought against firing track inspectors who falsified inspection reports and put public safety at risk.” [David Lublin]
- “Free Speech Index: Grading the 50 States on Political Giving Freedom” Alas, Maryland ranks 46th and gets an F. [Institute for Free Speech]
- College Park, Hyattsville prepare to let non-citizens vote. Illegals too? [Sapna Rampersaud, NRO]
- “Opinion: A tipped server from Seattle says Madaleno’s $15 minimum wage bill cuts incomes” [Simone Barron, Maryland Reporter] “The unintended victims of a $15 minimum wage are small businesses and their employees” [Mike O’Halloran, NFIB]
Tag Archives: Baltimore
In the latest win for activists, Baltimore mayor Catherine Pugh signed into law a new measure banning construction and expansion of crude oil terminals in the city. Previously Oakland, Calif. banned a terminal intended for coal exports, and Portland, Ore., and other West Coast cities have also moved to block fossil fuel infrastructure following environmentalist campaigns.
As individual controversies crop up in Maryland and elsewhere over particular natural gas terminals and pipelines, it’s worth remembering that for a well-organized body of activists, the goal is to block oil and gas infrastructure, period, and the individual complaints about one or another project (Baltimore activists claimed concern about safety) are makeweights to be invoked as needed.
Taxpayers will shell out $100,000 so the city of Baltimore can bus public school students to an anti-gun rally. And that’s only the start of what’s wrong here, I write in a new Cato post. “A protest outing that is ardently enabled or even meticulously organized by the authority figures in your life can be like the ninth-grade English course that ruins Macbeth or Moby Dick for you.” I quote Lynda C. Lambert in the Baltimore Sun: “Part of protesting is finding your own way, for your own reasons….. Government sponsorship is destructive to these ends.”
My parting shot: “As for the separate question of whether compulsory attendance and truancy laws should be enforced against students for skipping school in a favored cause, I’ll see and raise: don’t enforce those laws against anyone period.” [cross-posted from Overlawyered]
Act I: In a widely read Nov. 15 piece in Atlas Obscura, Priya Krishna reports on “the quest to save Baltimore’s Berger Cookie,” a beloved local food institution. “One of the most essential ingredients in the Berger Cookie is trans fats. Trans fats are what make the chocolate super creamy, prevent the fat and the water in the dough from separating (which would yield an overly crumbly cookie), and keep the cookie stable in both very warm and very cold settings.” However, the Obama administration enacted a federal ban on trans fats — for your own good, you know — which goes into effect next year.
Cookie producer Charlie DeBaufre, interviewed by Krishna, “refers to the past year as ‘frustrating and scary,’ as so many of his trans fat-free experiments have been failures. ‘I have spent $10,000 trying to get this worked out. I am not a big business. I don’t have an R&D Department. I have to shut down production for a few hours, still pay people for labor, and then most of the product gets trashed. It’s tough.’” More background in a piece I wrote for Cato last week.
Act II: Then a twist, reported by Sarah Meehan in the Baltimore Sun Nov. 21: the fudge supplier had managed to replace trans fats months ago and didn’t tell Berger’s. While early attempts to reformulate fudge frosting without trans fats had suffered from various quality defects, the new recipe was much improved to the point where neither consumers nor Berger’s had noticed.
So a happy if unexpected ending, at least for this one company, right? But the regulatory downside — you just knew there had to be one — was that in changing its recipe the fudge supplier had added more sugar, which appears to have boosted the calorie count and might have changed other things reported in the Nutrition Facts box as well. Since Berger’s says it didn’t know about the new formula, one inference might be that for a while it has been shipping cookies with a faulty calorie/nutrition count on the package. Hello to class action woes and, if the FDA is in a bad mood, regulatory liability? [cross-posted from Overlawyered]
- Last session, entrenched interests shut out craft brewers in Annapolis. Comptroller Peter Franchot vows to do something about that next session and good for him [Danielle Gaines, Frederick News-Post; FNP editorial on Flying Dog] Counterpoint from head of public health group: Maryland should be persecuting the alcohol business, making life easier for beer producers and consumers would do the opposite [Raimee Eck, Baltimore Sun]
- Yikes: “in half the high schools in Baltimore City, 3804 students took the state test, 14 were proficient in math.” [Fox Baltimore]
- Will Annapolis do his bidding again? Peter Angelos wants another special law for his asbestos lawsuits [Daniel Fisher, Legal NewsLine/Forbes]
- Videos of Oct. 10 Maryland Redistricting Reform Commission hearing in Rockville with Steve Spaulding of Common Cause and others [Jason Boisvert on YouTube]
- U.S. Supreme Court won’t review challenge to Maryland gun law, but I’m glad my own Cato Institute tried to get the case heard [blog, brief and description]
- Prince George’s County is considering a return to the practice of letting county council second-guess development approvals. Bad policy and corruption risk alike [David Whitehead and Bradley Heard, Greater Greater Washington]
- General Assembly piles absurd new continuing education mandates on licensed cosmetologists [Anastasia Boden, Washington Post/PLF]
- “Maryland Universities’ Mixed Commitment to Free Speech” [David Lublin, The Seventh State]
- My WSJ piece on Maryland’s botched bail reform now available ungated at Cato;
- Anne Arundel councilman Michael Peroutka onstage with Roy Moore at Alabama primary win [Chase Cook, Capital Gazette, more, earlier]
- “Census Bureau enlists local governments to help prepare for 2020 census” [Nancy Lavin, Frederick News Post, I’m quoted]
- Let’s make life harder for take-out food places in Baltimore, why don’t we? City has too much business already [Luke Broadwater, Baltimore Sun on councilmembers’ renewed efforts to ban Styrofoam]
Yesterday the city of Baltimore signed a 227-page consent decree with the U.S. Department of Justice putting the city’s police department under wide-ranging federal control for the indefinite future (earlier).
The decree (document; summary of high points) mingles some terms that rise to genuine constitutional significance with others that no court would have ordered, and yet others that appear not to be requirements of the law at all, but at most best practices. Many are virtually or entirely unenforceable (“professional and courteous” interaction with citizens). Whether or not the decree results in the less frequent violation of citizens’ rights, it is certain to result in large amounts of new spending and in the extension of the powers of lawyers working for various parties.
In November David Meyer Lindenberg of Fault Lines, the criminal justice website, wrote this opinion piece about the failure of DoJ police reform consent decrees to live up to the high claims often made for them (more: Scott Shackford, Reason). Our consent decrees tag traces the problems with these devices in a variety of public agencies such as those handling children’s and mental health services, as well as the budgetary rigidity they often impose.
Since Congress passed enabling legislation in 1994 in the aftermath of the Rodney King beating, the Washington Post and Frontline reported in a 2015 investigation, “Twenty-six [police] investigations — a little more than half of them since President Obama took office — have led to the most rigorous outcome: binding agreements tracked by monitors. More than half were consent decrees, meaning they were approved and managed in federal court.” As of that point only Ohio, at 4 agreements, had had more than Maryland, at 3.
This 2008 report from the Alabama Policy Institute by Michael DeBow, Gary Palmer, and John J. Park, Jr. takes a critical view of the decrees’ use in institutional reform litigation (not specifically police), and comes with a foreword by Sen. Jeff Sessions, now the nominee to replace Loretta Lynch as Attorney General of the U.S. Speaking of which, there’s something so weird about some liberals’ eagerness to hand the keys to big-city police departments over to Mr. Sessions. It’s as if they think once Main Justice is calling the shots it won’t think of using that leverage on issues like, say, sanctuary cities.
[cross-posted from Overlawyered. Note also Reuters’ new investigation of police union contracts, and related coverage in the Baltimore Sun (McSpadden case), Ed Krayewski/Reason (three years to fire misbehaving cop), and more Sun (deadly effects of police slowdown)]
- May 2015 work slowdown by Baltimore police may have led to long-term higher crime rate [Daniel Bier/FEE, Alex Tabarrok/Marginal Revolution] “11 Incredible Findings from the Report on Baltimore PD” [Bier, FEE]
- Claim: lawmakers can “give” private employees paid parental leave and “there’s no added cost to employers” [Kate Ryan, WTOP citing views of Montgomery County, Maryland council member Tom Hucker]
- Irony alert: Get-money-out-of-politics measure passes 53-47 in Howard County after backers outspend foes 10-1 [Len Lazarick, Maryland Reporter]
- “FBI fingerprinting for Uber and Lyft in Maryland would do more harm than good” [Washington Post letter to editor from Arthur Rizer, R Street Institute]
- “Economist: Baltimore Minimum Wage Bill Punishes Small Business Growth” [Connor Wolf]
- Major overhaul of state contracting proposed, along with hundreds of changes to regulations [Maryland Reporter]
Supposed reforms to Maryland’s notorious Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights (LEOBR) law could leave police unions with even more power than now [Washington Times, Washington Post] ACLU of Maryland report on how the law, along with the Baltimore police union contract, serve as obstacles to officer accountability [press, more] Last year, the filing of charges in the Freddie Gray case “enraged the police rank and file, who pulled back” from arrests and engagement with lethal consequences for the Baltimore crime rate; but was the work-to-rule really based on a well-founded fear of being prosecuted over good police practice? [Richard Oppel/New York Times, NYT “Room for Debate” and more, Alex Tabarrok/Marginal Revolution]
I’ve got a letter to the editor in today’s Washington Post. An excerpt:
The Dec. 11 Metro article “Baltimore eviction rate among highest in nation” reported on advocates’ efforts to change eviction procedures to allow Baltimore tenants to stay longer in rental housing even when they fail to pay their rent. One effect, of course, would be to make it even less attractive to offer and maintain rental properties in the hard-hit city.
Before going farther down such a road, it would help to review failures of existing Maryland housing policies….
And then I talk about Maryland lawmakers’ having enacted various legal changes to slow down foreclosures, and the unpleasant aftermath, a story told here. Why would a state want to go through a very similar wasteful, blight-encouraging exercise for rental property?